Album: MOODRING – Scared of Ferret (Silber 074 2009)


Moodring hail from Portland, Oregon and are centred around two members of Rollerball – Mae Starr on vocals and keyboards and Monte Trent Allen on bass. In addition, the quartet is completed by drummer Jesse Stevens and bass clarinettist Michael Braun Hamilton. Scared of Ferret is a curious beast with its roots in early Can and PIL with lashings of dub and a sprinkled topping of free jazz.

It’s also a strangely programmed album. Several of the tracks feel like mere sketches – ideas that have been abandoned before being fully developed and these are all loaded in the front half. The eastern tinged “Rintin Fire” and the improv work out “Shaker Tab” are the only tracks out of the first five that have any real substance to them, and even they are a little thin. Things don’t really get going until song six, “Colin Wilson”, which fuses a stoned dub with Starr’s gloomy contralto. From then on, everything seems much more focussed and fully realised. Indeed, the final six tracks (with the possible exception of the skeletal plinks, clicks and drums of “Riketts”) are terrific.

“Bulbul Tarang” starts out in a mood of dark ambience with a funereal drum beat before developing into a psychedelic drone piece with the clarinet wandering freely on top. With its dub vocal sighs and whispers and bass line not a million miles from Can’s “Mother Sky”, “The Weasel” is floaty and spacious. “Into the Doom” stands out. It has a sprightly electro-pop keyboard riff and a dreamy clarinet melody. For once Starr’s vocals aren’t buried shyly away, but are more forceful, sounding a little like Carla Bozulich. Things conclude with the slo-mo nightmare freakout of “Horse”.

Scared of Ferret is half way to being an exceptional album, but there’s too much in the first half that feels like it needs more. I wouldn’t call it filler – that would imply a band on autopliot – but just unfinished. The good stuff makes up for it, though, being both challenging and inviting at the same time.

1 Pole Cat Intro 0:45
2 Rintin Fire 3:28
3 #9 3:52
4 Scared Of Ferret 1:47
5 Shaker Tab 3:09
6 Colin Wilson 4:00
7 Bulbul Tarang 5:12
8 The Weasel 4:37
9 Into The Doom 5:01
10 Riketts 1:10
11 Horse 5:21



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s